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As with consumer trends and fads, there also are many marketing industry trends and fads.  For example, QR codes and social media are both excellent tools, if properly implemented.  However, they are simply tools – tools that are currently “shiny objects”, which are attracting much attention, but are destined to join a legion of previously shiny objects in the pile of tarnished marketing tools.

Yet, those who find themselves attracted to this siren’s song of “new silver bullets” may find themselves crashing on the rocks.

I have no negative feelings toward shiny objects.  Social media, Google Ad Words, QR codes, the Internet, Google Glass and dozens – if not hundreds – of new tools exist, with a virtually endless supply on the horizon.

None of these shiny objects is the total solution to every marketing problem – they are merely tools.  If we return to the concept of “price, place, product and promotion” to define marketing, these shiny objects are a sub-set of promotion.  Indeed, if we ascribe to using  goals, strategies and tactics – in that order –  shiny objects are tactics and, therefore, relegated to the lowest rung of the marketing ladder.

Indeed, tools are necessary to implement the plan.  That said, as one would rarely use radio to target the deaf, one would not use social media to target manufacturing CEOs, as it would be an ineffective tool. 

Again, I have no negative feelings toward social media.  I have about 4,700 Twitter followers, an active LinkedIn account, I use Google Ad Words to promote my business and I maintain several Facebook accounts. 

However, for my business, these media channels have proven to be useless.  Yes, I understand the “pushback” to these types of statements. To say that social media does not work for everyone is considered blasphemy by many.  Yet, papers are beginning to emerge showing that social media is not cost effective in many instances.

“It’s for our brand image”, some may offer.  Or, “we must maintain a social presence”, others may say.

If you’re Pepsico, WalMart, Bank of America or other giants, I might agree with you, as your company has the resources to initiate social media, for example.  However, studies show that up to 60 percent of Facebook followers follow corporations to obtain coupons or other discounts.  This results in a growing problem of “rewarding existing customers” but not gaining new customers or increasing product or service loyalties.

Once, you were not considered a legitimate business without business cards and a brochure of some sort.  I currently do not actively utilize either business cards or a company brochure.  Of course, we have those items on the server, in case someone requests them, but they tend to sit and grow cyber-dust as they are no longer useful tools for our company.

The same has held true for the last few decades.  At one point, everyone needed a “CD” to prove their worth.  This was followed by web sites, video DVDs, laptop presentation, thumb drive presentations and many, many more.

Again, these shiny objects are wonderful tools, but only if they fit into your overall marketing plan. However, tools should never drive the marketing process. To allow shiny objects to dictate marketing direction is patently wrong.


Posted by David Anderson
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